93 episodes

Interviews with innovative educators, self-directed young people, and others who think differently about learning, teaching, and schooling. Hosted by Blake Boles (blakeboles.com), author of "Why Are You Still Sending Your Kids to School?" and founder of Unschool Adventures.

Off-Trail Learning Blake Boles

    • Education
    • 4.7 • 48 Ratings

Interviews with innovative educators, self-directed young people, and others who think differently about learning, teaching, and schooling. Hosted by Blake Boles (blakeboles.com), author of "Why Are You Still Sending Your Kids to School?" and founder of Unschool Adventures.

    Nick Bergson-Shilcock on the Recurse Center

    Nick Bergson-Shilcock on the Recurse Center

    Nick Bergson-Shilcock is the CEO and co-founder of the Recurse Center (recurse.com), a self-directed and community-driven educational retreat for computer programmers. Nick describes his background as a lifelong unschooler (he’s the son of Peter Bergson, a recent podcast guest), as well as his early interest in gaming and programming and his transition into college, career, and Y Combinator (the startup incubator). We discuss how RC differs from “coding bootcamps,” who applies, who gets in, how the whole thing is funded, RC’s unique social rules (no well-actually’s, no feigning surprise, no back-seat driving, and no subtle -isms), and Nick’s evolving views on unschooling.

    Visit Nick’s personal website at https://nick.is/

    Recorded on July 20, 2021.

    • 1 hr 14 min
    Anna Smith and Mara Donahoe on Home & Hybrid Education

    Anna Smith and Mara Donahoe on Home & Hybrid Education

    Anna Smith and Mara Donahoe are the co-founders (with Natasha Morisawa) of the National Association of Home & Hybrid Education (homeandhybrideducation.org), a new advocacy organization that hopes to bring together all members of the alternative education movement in the United States. We discuss why Home & Hybrid Education (HHE) was created, whether the U.S. needs another homeschool organization, how HHE differs from other large organizations (AERO, ASDE, HSLDA), and why public hybrid options deserve a seat at the table. I ask them what a massively successful HHE would look like in 10 years, why they’re interested in the thankless task of building a politically centrist “big tent” organization, and how parents can get involved today.

    Anna and Mara are also co-founders of Urban Homeschoolers in Los Angeles, which you can learn more about at urbanhomeschoolers.com.

    Blake’s new free audio workshop, How to Stay Motivated as a Self-Directed Learners, is available at blakeboles.com/motivation.

    • 51 min
    Lilli And Elena on Biking Through Europe at Age 19

    Lilli And Elena on Biking Through Europe at Age 19

    While biking through the south of France, I met Lilli and Elena, two 19-year-old German women who are also on a cycling adventure. (We shared the same Couchsurfing host.) We discuss their bike trip, their path through formal education in Germany, why they’re taking a gap year, how they spend less than $10/day, how they stay safe, and what the trip has taught them so far.

    (Lilli and Elena have no website or social media -- kudos to them!)

    • 25 min
    Joel Malkoff on Joining The Circus

    Joel Malkoff on Joining The Circus

    Joel Malkoff (joelkmalkoffcircusartist.com) is a contemporary circus artist and 27-year-old grown unschooler from Indiana. We discuss Joel’s recent experience at the National Circus School of Montreal (“the Harvard of circus”), the job market for circus artists, and his new 3-person circus collective, La Quadrature (instagram.com/laquadrature). We also talk about Joel’s upbringing as an unschooler, his mother's influence, his childhood passions (skateboarding, parkour, guitar), his experiences at Not Back to School Camp, the difficulty of getting organized as a self-directed learner, the challenge of French immersion in Quebec, and how the pandemic affected his career.

    Recorded on August 1st, 2021.

    • 1 hr
    Alfie Kohn on Progressive Education

    Alfie Kohn on Progressive Education

    Alfie Kohn (alfiekohn.org) is the author of fourteen books and a well-known advocate of progressive education. Mr. Kohn discusses the purpose behind his 30+ years of advocacy, his critique of “grit” and “growth mindset”, and his take on the classic progressive school models (Montessori/Waldorf/Reggio) as well as homeschooling, unschooling, and highly self-directed schools & centers. He expresses concern over the extreme varieties of self-directed education and argues for the vital role of teachers (and other actively-involved adults) in education. We end by identifying common ground between the self-directed and progressive education movements.

    The following articles are referenced in this interview:

    The Trouble with Pure Freedom (by Alfie Kohn): https://www.alfiekohn.org/article/trouble-pure-freedom/

    The Progressive Teacher’s Role in the Classroom (by Alfie Kohn): https://www.alfiekohn.org/blogs/paradox/

    Rewards Are Still Bad News (25 Years Later) (by Alfie Kohn): https://www.alfiekohn.org/article/rewards-25-years-later/

    Differences Between Self-Directed and Progressive Education (by Peter Gray): https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/freedom-learn/201706/differences-between-self-directed-and-progressive-education

    • 39 min
    Catherine Fraise on Workspace

    Catherine Fraise on Workspace

    Catherine Fraise is the founder of Workspace Education (workspaceeducation.org) and 100 Roads (100roads.org). We discuss Catherine’s background as a Montessori educator, the pivotal trip to Japan she took as a 12-year-old, the Workspace co-learning and co-working center she created in Connecticut, and her newest venture, WorkspaceSky Teens: an online community for teenage self-directed learners. We touch on the trade-off between virtual and in-person communities, the logistical and financial challenges faced by would-be founders of alternative schools, and how the pandemic was a blessing in disguise for Catherine’s trajectory as an innovator. She also pitches me on joining the WorkspaceSky team, right here on my own podcast :D

    • 1 hr 12 min

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5
48 Ratings

48 Ratings

land0licorice ,

Seminal podcast about unschooling

Blake Boles is a tremendous voice in unschooling, a homeschooling approach that puts agency back into the hands of the learner. In his episodes, Boles compellingly shares his years of experience leading young adults through their education journey using self-directed principles. His anecdotes and interviews help crack a window into the rich world of unschooling.

Lovey Brower ,

Best podcast

This is the 5th time, I've listened to this!!!!!! I love you, & am so proud of you!!!!!! I was just getting used, to there being 5 of us, but 6???!!!
Did you get my response, asking if/when you might be headed to Tiburon???

Fool_Hardy ,

My Favorite Podcast

I am a public library manager. This is my favorite podcast, and I listen to dozens on a regular basis. It kills me how many kids and teens I meant who feel their value is tied to grades and test scores and who feel they are failures if they don’t go to an elite university. These interviews are so refreshing! I believe libraries can learn a lot from unschooling and quit trying to make our programs more like school. Thank you so much, Blake, for this effort!

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